In 2000, thanks to one of the greatest defenses of all time, Trent Dilfer became one of the most mediocre quarterbacks ever to win a Super Bowl. He won despite a -0.67 WPA in the regular season and -0.25 WPA in the playoffs. Dilfer could not win games for the Ravens, but he could lose them. His highest contribution was +0.33 WPA in a 24-23 win over Tennessee but had 4 separate games with a WPA below -0.25. As long as Dilfer didn't dig too deep a hole, that Ravens defense would prevail. So, without further ado, I give you the 2011 Trent Dilfer Club.
These are the QBs who win games by limiting their self-destruction and will often be the primary cause for losses. To qualify, the player must satisfy the following criteria:
- No games above +0.50 WPA
- Win-Loss record of at least .500
- WPA below 0 in at least 40% of their games
Current heir to the Dilfer throne - minus the Super Bowl title - the Sanchize is lucky enough to play with one of the best defenses in the league. The Jets rank 3rd in defensive EPA and 4th in defensive WPA. Sanchez has personally lost the Jets 3 games (DAL: -0.28 WPA, BAL: -0.60 WPA, DEN: -0.28 WPA) including last Thursday's thriller against the Denver Tebows. Were it not for Sanchez' game-tying pick six, Tim Tebow may never have had the chance to drive 95 yards for the win.
Vice President: Tim Tebow (4-1, -0.06 WPA)
Tim Tebow made his greatest contribution last week thanks to the aforementioned El Presidente, putting up a +0.29 WPA. Granted, Tebow did win the game for the Broncos, but that was only because his poor play put them in a hole to begin with. So, how is Tebow winning? Mostly on Defense. In his 4 wins, the Broncos defense has a -.89 WPA. Tebow personally lost the Detroit game and would have lost the Miami, Oakland and New York games, had it not been for the Broncos solid defense and some late game heroics.
Treasurer: Alex Smith (9-1, +0.64 WPA)
Alex Smith is the most likely to end up in Trent Dilfer territory this year, as he leads the 9-1, playoff-bound, 49ers. He has done a fantastic job limiting turnovers (4 INT this year) and allowing his dominant defense to win games. The 49ers defense leads the league in WPA at -1.64 and has been the #1 team against the run. Smith has posted a negative WPA in 4 of his games, including the Week 2 overtime loss to Dallas (-0.11 WPA). His best game? A +0.28 WPA performance against Tampa Bay in a 48-3 blow out.
Secretary: Andy Dalton (6-4, -0.40 WPA)
Andy Dalton has had a solid rookie season filling in for the once-retired Carson Palmer. Dalton led a Bengals squad to a 6-2 record before dropping back-to-back games. Cincinnati defense owns the 3rd best defensive WPA at -0.89 and has been the primary contributor to the early season success. Dalton had big games against Indy and Tennessee, posting +0.41 and +0.40 WPA respectively but also lost games against Denver (-0.29), San Francisco (-0.54) and Baltimore (-0.41).
Also, check out a model of Vince Young's, 18-play, 9-minute game winning drive.
Keith Goldner is the creator of Drive-By Football, and Chief Analyst at numberFire.com - The leading fantasy sports analytics platform. Follow him on twitter @drivebyfootball or check out numberFire on Facebook.